I was a wild child. More of a wild young adult really. I was about 18 when I stopped reading about life and started living it. I never gave up reading and often showed up with a book at unusual or inappropriate places, like parties. I wanted to taste as much as I could, but I was likely to be the one in the corner reading and keeping one eye on what was happening around me. I got an eyeful.
I met another wild child. More of a wild man, since he was eight years older than I was. I had been warned about him. He was an auto mechanic and loved going fast. He had long hair and played the guitar and had a reputation. He built drag racers, too. I was fascinated and fell hard.
When he moved to Boston, I followed him. We turned my 1966 Chevelle SuperSport into a C-Modifed Production drag racer. Every Friday, we and our roommate Kevin towed the car to Epping, New Hampshire, to New England Dragway. Here's a YouTube clip of a radio advertisement for N.E. Dragway from 1973, the time we were there racing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cygj3MNMU-c Here's a photo of me working on the car as we rebuilt it.
This is a photo of my car after we had taken it apart and put it back together, welded a roll bar in it, painted it, and installed the racing engine that Jack built (over 500 hp) and other racing parts (shifter, transmission). We did everything possible ourselves. We drew names from a hat and Audacity won. Unfortunately, the track announcer pronounced it 'Auto City' until I set him straight.
And here's that wild man, now my husband of 40 years. He was delighted when people told him he looked like Ginger Baker, the drummer from Cream, one of his favorite bands.
Yeah, I know, but it was the early 1970s. And here I am, walking away from the car. We slept in the car or on the ground or in the tow truck. I had to share the public ladies room with other girls at the track. How did I do that?! How did I go three days without a shower?! How did I manage to eat?! I can't even imagine doing that now. No clean sheets, no pillows, no vegan food, no private toilet, no bathtub and bubble bath, all that noise!
We spent the weekend racing, unless some important and unrepairable or replaceable part of the car broke. It's amazing how generous other racers were. Jack was a perfectionist and wouldn't race for money until everything about the car was right. We won lots of trophies. I can hear the engines, see the flames from the funny cars and fuel dragsters at night, and smell the gasoline and the nitromethane. It was exciting and there were interesting people at the track, famous drag racers and other minor celebrities. Google 'Jungle Pam' for a taste of those. I saw Pam reading in their trailer one time and wondered what she was reading. But she was famous, so I didn't have the nerve to ask.
(As an historical aside, this was about the time of gas-rationing in the United States, 1973 and 1974. Do you remember when you could only buy gas on even numbered days if your license ended in an even number? I don't remember how we managed to have gas for racing, except that we lived and worked in Boston and didn't use much gas during the week.)
We did this for two or three years. And then we got married. Saving for a house seemed more important to me than plowing all our meagre money into replacing a $500.00 transmission or other expensive part. So we sold the car. But we have the photos and the memories and I still won't drive a car with an automatic transmission. Three Corvettes later, we now drive a VW Jetta Clean Diesel standard shift. But I can still hole shoot most people at red lights or drop a gear or two into corners. It's second nature to me and it helps keep the reflexes sharp.
So, if the grey-haired woman next to you at the stop light is revving her engine, it's probably me! Say hello - to my dust!!